For many Rangers fans, nothing controversial Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley does will surprise them.
The burly Sports Direct businessman is known for his ruthless business tactics and money-minded attitude towards football and football fans.
Ashley is still at odds with the Glasgow club due to retail deals gone wrong and bluenoses will hardly flinch when they find out the billionaire has charged some Newcastle United fans for early season ticket renewals despite uncertainty amid the global health pandemic.
Ashley took up to the full amount for the season tickets from some accounts – more than £500 – and the decision to do so also comes despite economic uncertainty in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.
As it stands football has been postponed across Europe and there is no fixed date for the return of the football season.
The current season is yet to be completed and it remains up in the air how the next campaign will be structured.
It’s a decision which has drawn the ire of a livid Newcastle United FC Supporters Trust, who are disappointed that their pleas to halt season ticket renewal payments were not considered.
— NUFC Supporters Trust (NUST) (@nufctrust) March 25, 2020
“We find it incredibly disturbing that the club continues to take payments from supporters during these extremely difficult times, in what is a health and economic crisis,” said the NUST.
“Following our call for the suspension and delay of all future Season Ticket payments Newcastle United contacted us earlier today [March 25th].
“The club stated it has no intention of freezing or delaying payments, both for those that pay annually and monthly.
“Today, Tuesday 25 March 2020, Newcastle United took payments for the 2020-21 season from those supporters who opt to pay for their season ticket annually.
“Monthly payments will also continue as normal.
“We are disappointed that Newcastle United is unwilling to offer a meaningful support system to fans through this difficult time.
“Many supporters can afford to continue to pay, but we still feel more MUST be done for supporters who will suffer most due to the knock-on effects of coronavirus global pandemic.
“We are also deeply concerned to learn that some supporters who normally pay monthly have seen the full payment taken today.
“Any fans in that situation should contact the club immediately.”
The decision to take season ticket renewal cash is only the second PR disaster for Mike Ashley in the last week.
The High Street Billionaire was forced to close the doors of Sports Direct after a public backlash over plans to keep the store open for public health reasons, whilst simultaneously raising product prices.
Questions still remain over the security of Sports Direct workers jobs and their rights amid the shop closures [Guardian].